MAC East Champs

Bulls head to MAC Championship game for first time in 10 years

buffalobulls

The Bulls are Mid-American Conference East Champions for the first time in 10 years.

Buffalo finished the season 10-2 and 7-1 in conference play. The 10 wins are the most in school history.

UB football finished the regular season with a 44-14 victory against the Bowling Green Falcons (3-9, 2-6 MAC). Buffalo scored 37 unanswered points. Freshmen running back duo Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks led the team with two touchdowns each. With the win, the Bulls secured their spot to play against Northern Illinois (7-5, 6-2) for the MAC title next Friday.

It’s been a season of redemption for Buffalo. One year ago, they upset Ohio in the final game of the season to become bowl eligible. It was the Bulls’ third-straight win and the beginning of the best season in program history.

Buffalo didn’t get a chance to play a bowl game last year. Leipold promised his team that if they won those final three games they would be selected. Instead, they finished the season with nothing to show for it.

Leipold took the disappointment from last season and turned it into motivation for this year.

The Bulls shocked everyone in September with wins against Temple and Rutgers. They went undefeated in October to become bowl-eligible. They soaked Leipold in gatorade for the final time this regular season in November as they saw all the work pay off.

From top to bottom, every player had their eyes set on bigger goals than a bowl game. They wanted to be the best in the conference.

The Bulls have multiple players with NFL talent. Teams playing Buffalo were constantly worried about the explosiveness and big play ability of senior wide receiver Anthony Johnson and the tackling ability of senior Khalil Hodge.

They did not realize that two of the most talented members of the team would be twin brothers that enrolled in January this past year. The Pattersons, James and Jaret, were top performers at each of their positions this season.

James, who plays linebacker, finished second on the team in tackles and was the only freshman to be a starter from week one of the season. Jaret came into the season as the third running back on the depth chart but finished number one. He led the Bulls with 874 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.

Buffalo utilized it’s next-man-up mentality to sustain last year’s success. Freshman Aapri Washington was one of the best cornerbacks in a secondary with multiple injuries, sophomore defensive end Taylor Riggins stepped up when the Bulls’ best pass rusher, senior defensive end Chuck Harris, went down and junior K.J. Osborn took his game to another level without Johnson on the field.

Buffalo also relied on consistency. The offensive line allowed only eight sacks all season. Junior quarterback Tyree Jackson was the healthiest he’s been and put up career-high numbers. 

All this culminated into Buffalo football’s best season ever. But the Bulls aren’t done.

They play for the MAC title on Friday, Nov. 30 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Buffalo last played there in 2008 against a nationally ranked Ball State Cardinals team. They won 42-24.

They take on the winners of the MAC West division Northern Illinois, with the game beginning at 7 p.m..

Nathaniel Mendelson is the sports editor and can be reached at nathaniel.mendelson@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @NateMendelson